Body Cameras, Poorly Implemented, Failed

By: Ben Wood, Published on Apr 23, 2014

A 2013 study found that body cameras led to a massive reduction in use of force incidents and officer complaints. However, a new Justice Department report shows that the benefits of using body cameras are not reaped when they are implemented improperly.

Despite all officers using body cameras, the Albuquerque police still killed 20 people in the past three years.

The Justice Department found that Albuquerque police officers were using deadly force too often and most of the shootings were unconstitutional. The report examines a number of deficiencies in APD that led to its problems, but in this note, we focus on their specific concerns about the use of body cameras.

Cameras Required

APD is one of few departments its size to mandate body cameras. In 2010 APD ordered $53,000 worth of camera equipment from LEA-AID. The cameras [link no longer available] back then cost about $125 each. For its investigation, the DOJ used body camera footage along with police reports, witness accounts and audio recordings to investigate use-of-force incidents and police involved shootings.

What the DOJ Found

In its 46-page report, the DOJ found mainly that the body camera program was deficient. For example, in numerous cases police failed to turn on their body cameras at all. The report says it is especially troubling when officers didn’t turn their cameras on when they were the ones making the initial contact with a subject.

From the report: 

“In an incident where officers fired Tasers at 'Mike' after stopping him for speeding, none of the officers present recorded the incident. Many of the reports include repetitive or standardized explanations for failing to record, such as ‘the immediacy of the situation’ and ‘rapid and unexpected event.’ These descriptions were provided where it was clear that the officer had a clear opportunity to record the event."

It also found that in most cases officers were not disciplined for incidents where they had not turned on. In one case, out of six officers on the scene, not one had their camera on.

Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News
Get Notified of Video Surveillance Breaking News

Undeveloped Camera Program

The report says the department threw together its body camera program without ensuring support from rank-and-file officers and did not have any oversight to make sure they were being used properly. The cameras appeared to be “directed only at placating public criticism.”

Cumbersome Cameras?

One excuse officers gave the DOJ is that the cameras were cumbersome and difficult to operate.

“However,” the DOJ says “we observed a number of officers successfully using the lapel cameras during our onsite tours.” 

APD has now replaced the cameras with a model it says is "less cumbersome" and easier to operate, but still haven’t been any better at recording incidents, the report says. As of last fall it was using Taser’s body cameras, a camera that weighs less than four ounces.

APD officers had never been formally trained on how to use the equipment, body camera policies and what situations they should use them in, according to the report.

Comments (5) : Members only. Login. or Join.

Related Reports

The US Fight Over Facial Recognition Explained on Jul 08, 2020
The controversy around facial recognition has grown significantly in 2020,...
Axis Compares Fever Camera Sellers to 9/11 on Sep 18, 2020
Axis Communications, the West's largest surveillance camera manufacturer, has...
Dynamic vs Static IP Addresses Tutorial on Apr 16, 2020
While many cameras default to DHCP out of the box, that does not mean you...
Masks Cause Major Facial Recognition Problems on Feb 24, 2020
Coronavirus is spurring an increase in the use of medical masks, which new...
Integrated IR Camera Shootout 2020 - Avigilon, Axis, Bosch, Dahua, Hanwha, Hikvision, Panasonic, Uniview, Vivotek on Jan 30, 2020
The best and worst cameras tested in this IPVM shootout showed major...
Facial Recognition: Weak Sales, Anti Regulation, No Favorite, Says Security Integrators on Jul 07, 2020
While facial recognition has gained greater prominence, a new IPVM study of...
Latest London Police Facial Recognition Suffers Serious Issues on Feb 24, 2020
On February 20, IPVM visited another live face rec deployment by London...
Coronavirus Hits Manufacturers, Standing Now, Worse To Come on Apr 06, 2020
Coronavirus is hitting security manufacturers, though overall modestly for...
Worst Over But Integrators Still Dealing With Coronavirus Problems (June Statistics) on Jun 30, 2020
While numbers of integrators very impacted by Coronavirus continue to drop,...
Smartphone Thermal Camera Body Temperature Measurement Tested (FLIR / Seek) on Apr 10, 2020
Thermal cameras have exploded in popularity due to coronavirus, but can...
Pivot3 Mass Layoffs on Mar 27, 2020
Pivot3 has conducted mass layoffs, the culmination of grand hopes, a quarter...
Manufacturers Doing Better Than Expected Against Coronavirus on May 05, 2020
Coronavirus impacts are not hitting manufacturers as badly as they feared,...
Dangerous Hikvision Fever Camera Showcased by Chilean City on Aug 07, 2020
Deploying a fever camera outdoors, in the rain, with no black body, is...
Mobile Access Control Usage Statistics 2020 on Sep 21, 2020
Most smartphones can be used as access control credentials, but how...
FDA "Does Not Intend to Object" To Unapproved Fever Detection Cameras If No 'Undue Risk' on Apr 17, 2020
The US FDA has declared it will not go after the many companies marketing...

Recent Reports

OnTech Smart Services Partners With Google and Amazon To Compete With Integrators on Sep 25, 2020
A pain point for many homeowners to use consumer security and surveillance is...
The Future of Metalens For Video Surveillance Cameras - MIT / UMass / Immervision on Sep 25, 2020
Panoramic cameras using 'fisheye' lens have become commonplace in video...
Hikvision Sues Over Brazilian Airport Loss on Sep 24, 2020
Hikvision was excluded from a Brazilian airport project because it is owned...
China General Chamber of Commerce Calls Out US Politics on Sep 24, 2020
While US-China relations are at an all-time low, optimism about relations...
Verkada Disruptive Embedded Live Help on Sep 24, 2020
Call up your integrator? Have someone come by the next day? Verkada is...
IP Networking Course Fall 2020 - Last Chance - Register Now on Sep 23, 2020
Today is the last chance to register for the only IP networking course...
Drain Wire For Access Control Reader Tutorial on Sep 23, 2020
An easy-to-miss cabling specification plays a key role in access control, yet...
Norway Council of Ethics Finds Hikvision Human Rights Abuses "Ongoing" on Sep 23, 2020
Hikvision's involvement in "serious human rights abuse" in Xinjiang is...
IPVM Camera Calculator User Manual / Guide on Sep 23, 2020
Learn how to use the IPVM Camera Calculator (updated for Version 3.1). The...
Installation Course Fall 2020 - Save $50 - Last Chance on Sep 22, 2020
This is a unique installation course in a market where little practical...
SimpliSafe Business Security Launched Examined on Sep 22, 2020
SimpliSafe has launched "SimpliSafe Business Security" that the company...
FLIR CEO: Many New Fever Entrants "Making Claims That The Science Just Won't Support" on Sep 22, 2020
FLIR's CEO joins a growing number calling out risks with fever / screening...
China Bems Temperature Measurement Terminal Tested on Sep 22, 2020
Guangzhou Bems (brand Benshi) is the manufacturer behind temperature...
Axis Exports To China Police Criticized By Amnesty International on Sep 21, 2020
Axis Communications and other EU surveillance providers are under fire from...
Milestone XProtect on AWS Tested on Sep 21, 2020
Milestone finally launched multiple cloud solutions in 2020, taking a...